My experience has been completely different than the ones
mentioned thus far. Maybe I don`t understand the question well
enough, hopefully I do. I have re-written this about 4 times
trying to keep it short and full of useful information. I hope this is
short enough, yet containing the information.
When I started my online retail store, I had less than a shoe-
string as my budget. I truly felt (being a graphic designer by
trade) $500 would be a fair price for connecting the shopping
cart and secure transaction components to my previously
designed site. I designed the site in advance (just a few pages)
to use as examples to the businesses I was about to contact.
Much to my surprise, $500 is possible, but you end up with so
many mismatched components that in my opinion, it becomes
more work to manage and reliability becomes a problem. If
your site is not always running well, your potential and true
customers will go somewhere else… Maybe your competitors.
In my opinion, if you`re spending your day making sure your
system works (secure, functional, good presentation) you are
NOT spending your day making advancements in any other
area such as marketing, product procurement, better design,
creating partnerships with other businesses, and many other
things. What I am saying is, your energy is worth more money
than you think. The less time you spend building a business,
the more time you can invest in navigating the business` future.
Back to the main point. In business, you must trust someone,
but cannot become dependant on anyone. (that is difficult in
itself) We are all trying to increase profits, some do it by
convincing you they are your best option, when they may not
be. Something I have said for as long as I can remember
(maybe my teens), “People want IT (whatever the product or
service is) for one dollar. The people who have IT, wish to sell
IT for one million dollars. Your job, as a business owner, is to
negotiate the best value for your needs, or usage.
One Solution for Gaining Objective Cost Comparisons
When I began soliciting proposals for my situation, I wrote a
proposal of my own. My proposal stated everything I wanted.
Some sentences were not as well defined as others. That`s
because of the “lingo” I didn`t understand so clearly. But
certainly the main point of my plan was typed and emailed or
handed to a few businesses offering the services or
merchandise I wanted. I personally pick only three businesses I
felt comfortable, by way of their brand or ads I have heard
(advertising works) or even recommendations.
After providing my “request for a proposal” I began getting great
information back. Including information I should have included,
but didn`t know enough to include them when writing the first
“request for a proposal.” Each time I sent my “request for a
proposal” to a new business, I would update it`s content to
reflect everything I wanted. Starting with three businesses, my
solicitation of the “request for a proposal” document spread to
other businesses throughout a two month period. I also told
each business I would be ready to move forward in 60 days.
This gives time to allow businesses I didn`t know about in the
beginning to submit a bid, as well as negotiate with businesses
I have been in contact with. Eventually, I found the business I
wanted to work with. Now (while business option two was still
in a holding pattern) I negotiated what parts of their proposal I
felt I wanted or needed.
Eventually, it was possible to negotiate a financial agreement
which was less than half the original price. The pleasant
conversations and straight forward talking with the business
representative created trust with one another as well as clearly
defined my goal. They were happy to assist me with my goals.
It`s their job.
Just think like this. Everything is negotiable as long as you are
able to express what you can afford, as well as what you want.
The businesses you use to grow your business ideas are never
your partner… but they sure feel like it. Treat each other fairly.
But always be aware that they do not work for you.
One last thing, expectations kill otherwise great experiences. If I
expect to receive a salmon when I order food from a restaurant,
but receive trout I will not be so happy. But if the waitress would
tell me salmon is not available today, but provides alternatives,
I am likely to leave the restaurant feeling satisfied. Even though
it was not what I wanted to order at the time. Keep expectations
clear, so you and your team members can succeed.
Sorry it`s such long post.
Vincent Wilcox (a.k.a. KRAKR)
My band: Letters Make Words